Rafa joins Kyrgios, Dimitrov for Fast4
AFTER a record-breaking year, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal will kick off his 2018 tennis season in Sydney next month.
The Harbour City has scored a coup over its interstate rivals after luring the 16-time grand slam champion to compete in the T20-style Fast4 Showdown at Ken Rosewall Arena on January 8.
Nadal will take his place alongside Australian star Nick Kyrgios and world top five-ranked players Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev.
The 31-year-old Spaniard is currently holidaying after enjoying one of the best year's of his career in 2017. Nadal began the season at the Brisbane International and went on to claim the French and US Open titles to move into outright second on the grand slam winners list behind Roger Federer (19), winner of the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
With Fast4 to be played at Sydney Olympic Park for the first time next month, Nadal will resume his rivalry with Kyrgios, after beating the 22-year-old in the final of the China Open in October.
"Rafael Nadal is a superstar, not just in tennis but in international sport and it will be fantastic to welcome him back to Sydney to play FAST4 Tennis, a format that was pioneered here in the Harbour City," NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said.
"He completes a stellar line-up for the event and I have no doubt fans will travel from far and wide to see these players in action and experience everything our city has to offer in summer."
The nine-year gap between Nadal's first year-end No. 1 season in 2008 and this year is a record. Among other marks in reaching No. 1 for the first time since 2013, Nadal also became the first player:
*Over 30 to finish the year as world No. 1;
*To hold, lose and regain the year-end No. 1 on three occasions (no one has done it twice);
*To finish No. 1 four times in non-consecutive years; and
*To finish in the top spot four years since he last achieved the feat.
World No. 21 Kyrgios, a renowned lover of innovative tennis formats, is looking forward to travelling to Sydney and a possible rematch with Nadal.
"Playing the FAST4 Showdown was a lot of fun in Sydney and I'm looking forward to playing again," Kyrgios said.
The Australian said he enjoys FAST4's quick, high-pressure playing format.
"FAST4 is a bit different to what we usually face on tour. It brings the pressure points or big points earlier which is fun to play, and also a lot of fun for the crowd - it's fast and exciting.
"It's no secret I really enjoy the atmosphere of a big crowd and playing FAST4 this year was a fun experience. It's great to promote this format and be a part of it."
Tennis NSW CEO and Sydney International Tournament Director Lawrence Robertson said the line-up for 2018 is exciting for tennis fans.
"The FAST4 Showdown already boasts three of the world's most exciting tennis players in Dimitrov, Zverev and Kyrgios, and to add the best player in the world - Nadal - to the mix is going to take the event to an even higher level," Robertson said.
"I'm really excited to welcome the FAST4 Showdown to Ken Rosewall Arena at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre as part of what is already going a fantastic week of tennis in January.
"Each we've seen the players find fresh enjoyment of the sport through FAST4 as it allows them to perform in a way they can't day-in-day-out on the tour. It was terrific to see Nadal really get into the spirit of the event in 2017 and Kyrgios is one of tennis' 'early adopters' of alternative formats so he is a perfect fit for our event.
Tickets for FAST4 Showdown are on sale now via Ticketek. Adult prices start at
$39 and $10 for children. Family passes start at $88.